Joanna is a teacher at a large school in the Midlands | Joanna's story | Remploy
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Joanna is a teacher at a large school in the Midlands

I am a teacher in a large and busy school. I have always loved my job and had previously thrived on the "busyness" of the work with targets, planning and deadlines and the sense that the job was never done however hard I tried.

I struggle with being a perfectionist and so was extremely frustrated when I began to notice increasingly overwhelming feelings of stress and anxiety. It's really difficult in teaching to draw a line under work and maintain a healthy work life balance.

I wasn't sleeping well, was having anxiety attacks and was becoming fearful in everyday situations. I couldn't drive my car or be on my own and had a horrible panic attack when I was on a course last April. I was desperate that my boss would not think any worse of me and so felt continually stressed that I would let myself and her down if I did not continue to be the outstanding teacher that I have always thought was important.

I used to hate the idea of asking for or needing help but with young children and an important job, there came a point where I began to feel that I shouldn't have to just find a way to cope without asking for support.

I was told about Remploy by Access to Work following a query about support for stress and anxiety and very quickly I was contacted by Gill. a Remploy advisor. To have a friendly sympathetic voice at the other end of the phone was such a huge relief and she made me feel at ease immediately and that it was very normal to be feeling the way I was.

Gill was sensitive to my worries and immediately made me see that there was light at the end of the tunnel. She gave me practical ideas and targets for sorting issues out with work, finding practical solutions and making me feel that what I was needing and asking for was perfectly reasonable. She empowered me and I stopped feeling scared.

Gill supported me all the way, maintaining regular contact and encouraging me by being specific in her feedback about my achievements and how I had done this myself. Initially I would look forward to each fortnightly call but by the end of the six months I began to forget that we had arranged to speak- a sign that I was really managing independently again.

As a result, I have learned to trust myself and remember that meeting my needs are the most important thing.

To use my voice more, both in public and on a one-to-one basis.

To know that how I am feeling is important and might just be how someone else is feeling too, but is too shy to vocalise.

To be proud of who I am. To fly the flag for hidden and more obvious physical disabilities.

To realise that people need educating about disability but not in a condescending way

To not feel scared of causing offence or getting it wrong and knowing when to be quiet or when to lend a hand.

To stay away from negativity.

To change my mind set and see how I can be positive and move forward in whatever small steps I can.

To know that life is always changing.

To value the present moment, to breath and be calm and trust that everything will work out not matter how hard a struggle it may feel at the time.

Find out more about anxiety with our A-Z of disabilities